Gambian president headed for landslide re-election, but opposition candidates dispute results

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  • Adama Barrow
    3rd President of the Gambia
  • Yahya Jammeh
    Yahya Jammeh
    2nd President of the Gambia
Gambians watch election results
Gambians watch election results JOHN WESSELS/AFP

Preliminary results from Saturday's election in the West African nation of Gambia suggest that incumbent President Adama Barrow is virtually guaranteed to win a second term, but some opposition candidates have announced they will not accept the election results, Reuters reports.

With 50 of Gambia's 53 constituencies reporting, Barrow has won approximately 54 percent of the vote. There are five other candidates on the ballot, and Barrow needs only a plurality to win.

This presidential election was the first in mainland Africa's smallest nation since former dictator Yahya Jammeh went into exile in 2017. Observers had hoped that this election would definitively move Gambia into a post-Jammeh era of democracy and rule of law, but three candidates' refusal to accept Barrow's apparent victory casts the nation's future into doubt.

Gambia scores a 37 out of 100 (with zero indicating the highest possible amount of corruption) on Transparency International's 2020 Perceived Corruption Index, which measures "perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople." The worldwide average is 43. Denmark and New Zealand, each with a score of 88, top the list.

Jammeh first took power in a 1994 coup. His long presidency was characterized by human rights abuses and widespread corruption. He has also been accused of rape.

Barrow defeated Jammeh in the 2016 election, but Jammeh disputed the results and attempted to remain in power. He fled to Equatorial Guinea only after neighboring countries threatened military intervention to oust him.

The three candidates disputing the results are Mama Kandeh, Essa Mbye Faal, and Ousainou Darboe, a veteran politician who — according to the most recent reports — is in second place with less than half of Barrow's vote count. Kendeh is the leader of a political faction that Jammeh founded and has supported from exile.

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